A brief jolt: Tax-reform panelist says dropping sales tax on food was a mistake

Last month, a measure that would allow Gov. Sonny Perdue and a hand-picked committee to take a stab at rewriting the state tax code was introduced.

There were clues – the attempted inclusion of former governor and U.S. senator Zell Miller on the panel, for instance – that a restoration of the sales tax on food was being targeted.

HB 1405 received final passage on Tuesday.

Walter Jones of Morris News Service was there when, two days later, another shoe dropped off the centipede:

An economist who’ll serve on the state’s special tax-reform panel said Thursday that ending the tax on groceries contributed to the violent swings in tax collections that have triggered dramatic cuts in the budget.

“The consequence of that is we took out of our tax base one of the most stable components of our sales-tax collections,” said Roger Tutterow, an economics professor at Mercer University in Atlanta..

The General Assembly just passed next year’s budget Wednesday which included cuts and increases in fees and a new tax on hospitals.

When policymakers meet again in January, slow economic growth will likely lead them to consider more tax increases, Tutterow told a luncheon meeting of the Mercer Executive Forum. If they do, he recommended the tax be spread broadly so the burden will be evenly distributed and people will be less prone to change their behavior to avoid the new tax.

This comes today from Jim Walls with Atlanta Unfiltered:

A middle Georgia judge retaliated against two witnesses who testified in January about his courtroom conduct, state investigators say. Those actions may cost Twiggs Probate Judge Kenneth Fowler his paycheck.

The state Judicial Qualifications Commission today will ask that Fowler be suspended from office immediately without pay. A hearing begins this morning in Macon before attorney H. Jerome Strickland, a special master appointed by the Georgia Supreme Court.

If you’re a Republican, you have to be hoping that Michael Steele is on the right side of this one. From the Washington Post:

The executive board of the Republican National Committee moved quietly this week to order an independent review of the organization’s spending practices, a move that reflects internal concerns about cost controls and oversight of the $121 million in tax-exempt receipts the committee collected this election cycle.

The move came after Illinois GOP Chairman Pat Brady, a former federal prosecutor in the Justice Department’s fraud section, helped conduct a confidential review of party spending at the request of national Chairman Michael S. Steele. Brady’s review concluded that while the party’s internal controls are good, its policies for approving expenditures warrant a deeper look, RNC officials said.

For instant updates, follow me on Twitter.

25 comments Add your comment


April 23rd, 2010
9:00 am

Vote out the incumbents and start over

Just Nasty & Mean

April 23rd, 2010
9:10 am

It appears from this that the GOP is attempting to ID and clean up their own spending practices.

Of course, they will be “slimed” and disparaged by the GimmecRats and mainstream media for attempting to control, clean up and manage their expenses.


April 23rd, 2010
9:19 am


I’m glad to see the RNC start controlling and cleaning up their finances. Hedonism is expensive, and in today’s political climate, looked at askance.

Jab R. Naught

April 23rd, 2010
11:03 am

Groceries are awfully high. Any help you might offer us would sure be appreciated.

Beelzebubba - Demon of the South

April 23rd, 2010
11:22 am

Taxes are high too Jabo. I read the feller in Missouri that won the big lottery was getting $124 mil out of the $258 mil he won. I don’t guess he’ll fuss much since thats still a good bit of money. Poor guy. He said he would pay off bills, fix his teeth and get his kids a bicycle. His big decision now is whether he’ll keep his $7.50/hr. job. It hasn’t sunk in yet and rightfully so for somebody who has never had nothing. I’ll remember the ‘ol boy in my prayers because I think he’ll need them. Being told I had just run into that much money would probably be just enough to send me over the edge. Mel said it’s good to be King but there’s a right smart to be said of having just enough to have a little piece of mind.

Jab R. Naught

April 23rd, 2010
11:33 am

Yep, they are. I didn’t know Demons prayed?

Beelzebubba - Demon of the South

April 23rd, 2010
11:35 am

Not all do. I learned it before the fallen angel bit. Old habits are hard to break I reckon.

Tiger Woods + Jesse James = SuperBAD meets SuperEVIL in "SuperUGLY"

April 23rd, 2010
12:20 pm

Jab R. Naught April 23rd, 2010 11:03 am
“Groceries are awfully high. Any help you might offer us would sure be appreciated.”

Their going to help you, alright….to ALOT more of your very scarce hard earned money when they restore the sales taxes on groceries…and that’s just for starters! It was pretty obvious when the Georgia General Assembly gave that $387 million tax cut to seniors last week that they were going to get that money back and go after about several hundred-millions more in revenues in the form of tax and fee increases.


April 23rd, 2010
12:34 pm

“The consequence of that is we took out of our tax base one of the most stable components of our sales-tax collections,” said Roger Tutterow, an economics professor at Mercer University in Atlanta..

Sounds like he is a progressive liberal socialist. I have not confidence in college professors. I think on line classes will stop the indoctrination by these socialists.

John Galt

April 23rd, 2010
12:47 pm

Sure, go ahead and reinstate the sales tax on food during the worst economic times in many years. That idea must have come from Black Bart, the Republican MBA who is George “Sonny” Perdue’s Revenue Commissioner. And, of course, Black Bart won’t have a bit of trouble paying the extra tax- he makes $150,000 per year, at least until his successor goes into office next year- but he will have trouble collecting the tax from the businesses who add it to the bill each time Georgia’s citizens go to the grocery store. He can’t even reliably tell who’s filing and who’s not. “Bringing business practices to State government.”


April 23rd, 2010
12:54 pm

Just days after reporting that income taxes on high earners are being slashed, we see that they are going to re-instate a food tax that disproportionately hurts the middle class and below.

It would be funny if it weren’t so disgusting…they aren’t even trying to hide it anymore.

Wounded Warrior

April 23rd, 2010
1:05 pm

Folks on food stamps don’t pay sales tax on food.


April 23rd, 2010
1:09 pm

Why should they hide it Avery? The Republicans have figured out that all they have to do is yell about some socially conservative issues and those they’ve economically damaged will vote for them anyway.


April 23rd, 2010
1:33 pm

it’s a bout like these clowns to do away with a solid revenue source and then stand there, mouths open, saying “what happened to our revenue”. All this “tax reform” talk sounds great but where is the money to pay for services going to come from if we keep exempting things? Wait till we see the effects of their meddling with property taxes. Heck we will be broke in 5 years or less.

Tiger Woods + Jesse James = SuperBAD meets SuperEVIL in "SuperUGLY"

April 23rd, 2010
1:42 pm

marco April 23rd, 2010 1:33 pm-

We don’t have to wait five years, we’re already broke now.


April 23rd, 2010
1:56 pm

@Williebkind–Tutterow is no progressive liberal socialist (a double redundancy, by the way). He’s actually fairly market oriented. His premise, if you read the Walter Jones article, is that some form of taxes will be increased b/c spending has already been cut. I’d prefer to see more cuts, but if taxes are increased then repealing exemptions is preferable to raising rates.


April 23rd, 2010
2:47 pm

Tutterow isn’t the problem with the commission but there are a couple of big govt types who are on it so it might be wise to keep a firm grip on your wallet.

Billy O

April 23rd, 2010
3:54 pm

Morrus, you are the man! My sentiments exaclty. We have to vote out all incumbents locally, state wide and nationally and start over.


April 23rd, 2010
4:07 pm

100% sales tax on tea, that should do it.

Just Jane

April 23rd, 2010
6:51 pm

I appreciate some of the well-researched opinions on this blog. I just don’t see very many of them. Please do the research instead of relying on what you read in the media. There are earmarks (pork) in the budget. There are several corporate tax credits waiting to be enacted. Rampant business lobbying is the problem.

Paddy O

April 24th, 2010
12:13 am

Grocery prices are cheap. All citizens who have the right to vote (those over 18) have an obligation to help fund the government. The sales tax has the best spread & fairness. Everybody buy food, so why eliminate it? If I was elected, I would do this. I would also provide cities & counties other SPLOSTS – MOST for the cities & a T-SPLOST for both the city & county – would apply only to fuel and run like the hotel/motel tax. But especially, I would enact an ELOST M&O – BUT, it must be collected for a full 12 months, then used to reduce the property tax of citizens who do not have children in the school district voting the tax in. Plus, it would be graduated – 1st round, 1% for 5 years, 2nd round 2% for 6 years; final option 3% for 10 years (however, if 100% of property tax for citizens without kids in the school district was abated, then a portion would be applied to those who are using the service of the school district).

Paddy O

April 24th, 2010
12:14 am

Nobody pays, except for the local portion, you schmuck.

Decatur Bubber

April 24th, 2010
9:41 am

The way to handle this is to tax food, but give an annual state income tax credit of up to say, $200 a year against your state taxes due if your annual income is less than $100,000 a year. That way, the West Paces Ferry, lobster-eatin’ rich folks pay tax on food, while us normal, walk-around working stiffs pay a way smaller amount after taking into account their tax credit.
Zell Miller’s “terrific tax policies” were all aimed at screwin the little man in the name of helping him! He was an idiot, and a mean-spirited official by the time his career thankfully ended.


April 24th, 2010
11:20 am

One cut at a time.

Every year, tax breaks are handed out to the connected business community and special interest groups. At the same time they take more from the individual taxpayer. Last year it was the Homestead exemption elimination + a billion dollar corporate tax cut.

The rules for utility rate increases have changed also. Most increases now seem to only apply to residential rates, not business rates.

The goal is for the individual to pay all the taxes, and pay for the utilities.

Aaron Burr V. Mexico

April 24th, 2010
2:43 pm

Yeah cause Poor People suck!